Parked, by Danielle Svetcov | Book Review
The Children’s Book Review | January 12, 2020
Written by Danielle Svetcov
Age Range: 10-14
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Dial Books (February 4, 2020)
What to expect: Homelessness, Poverty, Friendship, Pride, and Compassion
In Danielle Svetcov’s debut novel, a friendship forms between two unlikely Caucasian, middle school characters and offers readers alternating and affecting perspectives on the social issues of poverty and homelessness. Parked will appeal to readers of books like Dan Gemeinhart’s The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise and Katherine Applegate’s Wishtree.
Jeanne Ann and Cal, both 12-year-olds, are living different lives. Cal resides with his mother, a successful vegetarian restaurateur, in a beautiful home in the Marina District of San Francisco with views of the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. Jeanne Ann lives in an orange van with her mother, who has just quit her job and uprooted them both. She and her mom have traveled across the United States from Chicago to San Francisco, leaving behind a permanent address in search of a new one. They are parked illegally, along with a line of other vans, blocking the picturesque view of the homeowners across the street—including Cal’s home. Knowing that the carrot-colored van is likely to get towed, Cal devotes his time to save Jeanne Ann. The only problem is that Jeanne Ann is determined not to be pitied and not to accept handouts.
It is clear that Svetcov has spent plenty of time developing the two pensive and well-formed protagonists, and her evident love of literature and food shines through in both plot and character development. One look at the list of library books Jeanne Ann has checked out from the library will tell readers that she is a book lover through-and-through. When Jeanne Ann and her mom run out of money, Jeanne Ann sells off her beloved books to a used bookstore to help pay for parking tickets—readers will not miss the impact of her sacrifice. Cal’s natural awkwardness and preference for expressing himself through art instead of words are just-right attributes for forming a believable relationship between the pair. Throw in some quirky characters and combine them with the thread of food and the nature of San Francisco herself, and you’ve got a charismatic story ready to make an impact on young readers.
Just like eating a perfectly steamed artichoke dipped in melted butter, readers will readily nibble away bit-by-bit at the story until they reach the coveted tender heart of things.
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About the Author
An impatient chef once told author Danielle Svetcov, “You talk too much, you move too slow!” when she was peeling onions in his restaurant kitchen. He was right. So she doubled down on writing, which rewards thinking (and talking) and going slow. Danielle wrote for The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, The Chicago Tribune Magazine, and others before becoming a literary agent and, now, an author. With her debut novel, Parked, she writes her way back to her first loves–food and friendship. You can find Danielle across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco with her salami-loving family.
For more information, visit: https://www.daniellesvetcov.com/
Read our exclusive interview: Danielle Svetcov Discusses Her Debut Novel ‘Parked’
Parked, written by Danielle Svetcov, was reviewed by Bianca Schulze. Discover more books like Parked by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Compassion, Friendship, and Homelessness & Poverty.